How do you parent?

Yesterday at work I needed to buy my lunch from the small canteen that is onsite and available for staff. I’m usually served by the grumpy owner but on this day a young kid about 13 or 14 took my order. He was nervous and gangly with a squeaky voice. Squeaky, but also soft and shy. He walked into the back room to make my sandwich and straight away I could hear the grumpy woman start belittling him. Scolding him for not using the ‘correct’ butter knife, slapping his hand away when he reached for the ‘wrong’ loaf of bread, repeating instructions aggressively and unnecessarily and actually asking “Are you stupid?!”. I couldn’t believe this woman was talking to an employee like this! It wasn’t until I heard him say quietly, “Sorry, Mum” that it became clear he was actually her son.

As I stood there watching and listening I found myself becoming quite upset. This might sound overly dramatic (yeah, I may be extra emotional lately) but tears actually formed in my eyes as I stood witness to this young kid having his self esteem crushed. Not only crushed but crushed so openly and publicly. I walked away so sad and upset with a yucky feeling in the pit of my stomach. I just couldn’t understand why someone would choose to parent that way. Don’t get me wrong, I sure she loves her son very much but I do not think that sort of criticism towards a child is helpful nor healthy.

Since then, I have been thinking a lot about our parenting style and what it even is that we’re practicing. I have no idea. I suppose if someone asked, I would say we’re gentle parents? I don’t even know what that means. We’re not perfect that’s for sure. We have moments of frustration like every parent. Luckily there’s two of us so when one gets fed up, the other can tag in and take over. I think kids are so often overlooked and dismissed and that feels so wrong to me. I can say with absolute confidence that I’ll never call Oscar stupid.  I want him to move at his own pace and allow him to make mistakes as he learns things. I want him to trust us completely, I want him to practice empathy.

I have been interested in the Danish style of parenting for a while now but haven’t looked very in depth. After yesterday however, I’ve decided to read the book ‘The Danish Way’ as so many things about it resonate with me. Candice and I have our own unique way of parenting and I think it’s working well, I mean Oscar is such a bright, happy kid. I just want to further my knowledge as there might be some great tips to help us get through the next few years.

It doesn’t take much to be gentle. Be patient, be respectful. If you wouldn’t speak to another adult like that why would it be acceptable to talk to a child that way. Their minds are developing so rapidly and they are learning all the time. Make sure they are learning kind habits and not destructive ones. You never know just how far that kindness will go towards their future as an adult.

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A day in the life of Oscar

7am – Oscar woke with a smile and let me know he was ready for the day. It was just us two in bed this morning as his Mumma had spent the night away.

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8am – We still hadn’t gotten dressed and were just bumming around on the deck. Oscar is fascinated by this rainbow spinning wheel and likes to pull it out of the pot plant and walk around, waving it in the wind.

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9am – Nap time. He wouldn’t usually have his morning nap this early but after going to bed later than usual last night he was extra tired today. It was really nice outside so instead of trying to get him to sleep in his cot I took him for a walk in the pram.

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10am – We arrived home from the walk but he hadn’t woken so I set up camp at the end of the hallway while he slept in the pram. I left him just outside the front door as it was warm inside the house and there was a cool breeze outside. Also because I felt genuine fear that he may wake if I tried to lift the pram over the doorstep. The things we do.

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11am – We usually do our grocery shopping on Sundays as it has just become a habit. Oscar finds it a chore as do we.

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12pm – We were meeting my sister and Mum for a barbecue in the park but we arrived before anyone else so Oscar did what anyone would do. He took his dragon for a walk.

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1pm – The park barbecue was a fail as we couldn’t seem to light the BBQ. We packed up and drove 2 minutes down the road to our house instead. Upon arriving there our two dogs Yoshi and Luna went nuts with excitement at having guests over. They were barking loudly and jumping up at the fence. Oscar was a bit confused as they never bark at him like that.

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2pm – Candice and her Dad decided to tackle the overgrown lawn in our backyard. Oscar was less than impressed that he wasn’t allowed out there. He was confined to the deck as they mowed around us and every time they passed him and didn’t stop, he would go into meltdown mode. This involves laying down on his tummy with one leg up as he twists his body and wails. It’s so odd and hilarious.

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3pm – Once the mowing was done, it was time to whipper snip. Oscar had missed his second nap by this point and was starting to enter the dangerous territory of over tired toddler so we let him come out and have a play with the tools and gardening equipment.

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4pm – We have a mound of grass in our backyard now, waiting to dry out so we can dispose of it. In the meantime, Oscar is all over it. I’m itchy just looking at it.13

5pm – Early dinner since he missed his nap. He is really living by the ‘sharing is caring philosophy lately. Thanks but no thanks, tiny monster.

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After this is was bath, milk and bed. He fell asleep relatively easily but has since woken 3 times and it’s only 7.20pm. I don’t understand why sleeping is so difficult for this child. Sleeping is the best thing ever, Oscar! I hope you learn that soon.

 

No time for rest

Being a mum when you are unwell has got to be one of the most difficult things to do as a parent. It is so damn hard! Over the last week our house has been hit with a gastro bug. This wasn’t our first time getting sick as a family but it didn’t make it any easier. It almost always starts with Oscar before eventually spreading to Candice and I. That means that by the time we are at the peak of our sickness, Oscar is usually back to being his energetic and loud toddler self. This is where the struggle begins. All we want to do is sleep all day, curl up and be looked after but that is simply not an option when a toddler is around.

In my attempt to take it easy, I dragged a spare mattress out into the lounge room. This meant I could still be horizontal and that Oscar would be able to play within my sight. I set him up at the coffee table with a paint brush, a shallow dish of water and one of those no mess, ‘paint with water’ colouring in books. I put on the TV and watched him as he ran around like a tornado, pulling out every toy he owns. It’s funny how many of his toys live in the lounge room. Before I had Oscar I was adamant that the living space would never turn into a play room. The thing I didn’t realise is that children simply won’t play in their room unless they have company in there. At this age he wants us to be within sight at all times. It started with bringing out just a small bucket of toys, then we added a few bigger toys that couldn’t fit inside the bucket. Then we moved the large toybox from his bedroom into the lounge room. Now he has 2 toyboxes and a big play kitchen out here! Even with all of these toys at his fingertips, his favourite thing to do while I was cradling my stomach, was climb all over me and poke me in the face.

Something I noticed from being less than a couple of meters from him all day was that there was minimal whining. Practically none. He was so happy to see that I was still there every time he looked back after playing with something. Lately that has been a struggle for us. He will scream or cry when we leave the room, just to use the bathroom or walk to the kitchen. When it came time to put him to bed, Candice said it was one of the easiest bedtimes she’s had with him. No fighting, no crying, not even any rocking. He actually fell asleep while drinking his bottle and she was able to place him straight into his cot. I can’t help but think that maybe the two are linked. That him feeling so secure all day helped him fall asleep easier. Or it could just be a coincidence. Who knows.

All three of us are on the mend now, thankfully. Fingers crossed that it’s a while before I am covered in Oscar’s vomit and poo again. It really wasn’t fun.

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First the bug took down Oscar..

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… Then both of them were suffering from it…

 

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… Finally it was my turn. This was one of the quieter parts of my sickest day. He was watching whatever was playing on the TV but had to make sure he had a hold of me. He’s such a sweetheart.

 

Well that was Christmas.

Another year, another Christmas. Seriously, time is slipping away quickly. How is it now January 2016?!

Just like last year, Christmas Day started early for us. Oscar has got to be the most consistent alarm clock we’ve ever had. I think Christmas is probably the only day of the year where people don’t mind being woken early, or maybe that’s just us. We all moved out to the lounge and first thing’s first, we made coffee and some breakfast for Oscar. After that, we were straight into it, helping Oscar to open his gifts. People have always told us that kids of this age are only interested in the wrapping paper but that wasn’t the case with our munchkin. He was definitely all about what was on the inside of the paper. Similar to last year, we didn’t go over board with presents. His main gifts were some shape sorters, books and a name puzzle. We picked well choosing the shape sorters, he really enjoys playing with them.

Next up was Christmas breakfast with my family. It’s a fairly new tradition but each year, my siblings and I take turns hosting a festive breakfast. Now that we all have kids, it seems fair to do it this way. Next year is our turn to host and it will be the first time we have. For this Christmas is was at my sister’s house and by the time we arrived almost everyone was already there. It was so different to last year, with Oscar walking and being so much more interactive with everyone. I can remember last Christmas and being so nervous about messing up his routine. Worried about him sleeping, eating, being overwhelmed but the noise. This year was so much more relaxed! We left with very full bellies and headed back home to repack the car. Oscar fell asleep on the drive so we transferred him to his cot and let him nap before dressing him in some comfy clothes and heading over to Candice’s parents house for lunch. It was a quiet day with just her parents and a couple of close family friends but it was lovely. Lovely until Oscar decided he had enough of the festivities. By the time it came for us to leave, Oscar was exhausted and more than ready for bed.

Just like that, Christmas Day was over! We hope you all had a merry day!!

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